Terry, Doug & Roxie's Canadian Maritime Trip 2013 travel blog

Ferry to Labrador



450 Year Old Whaling Boat

Pinware River

Today we traveled to St. Barbe, Newfoundland to catch the ferry to Labrador.

Traveling along the main highway, the local people have planted their gardens right beside the road. They get some richer soil and build it up and some build a wooded fence around it. This is the food they put in root cellars to last them through the winter. There are lots and lots of wood cut and piled along side the road. Everyone participates in cutting the wood for the long winter months. The land on the drive was very barren with small pine trees.

We saw our first moose just standing along the road by one of those wood piles. Exciting!!

We drove 57 miles to St. Barbe Parking Area where we dry camped a night. It was right across from where we caught the ferry Apollo to Labrador. Auntie Sharon stayed behind and babysat for Roxie, Trip, Cody, Cassie and Lola the kitty.

It was a beautiful day for the ferry ride. The ferry ride was only 19 sea miles but it took 90 minutes going approximately 16.5 knots from Newfoundland to Labrador. About half way across we started seeing icebergs. We were told this is the best sightings of icebergs in Labrador in five years. It was so sunny and nice, we went outside and some of the icebergs were very close. A little trivia about icebergs: Icebergs are 50,000 years old by the time they reach Labrador from Greenland. 90% of it is underwater. About twenty minutes before we reached shore we saw some whales in the water by the ferry.

We had car pooled onto the ferry and when we drove off, we drove 55 miles to our destination of Red Bay. The land is very rocky and barren with small trees and scrub brush. Labrador's land area is more than twice as large as Newfoundland or California. It extends farther East than any other part of North America mainland. Labrador is shaped like a triangle and is over 500 miles wide at the southern border and 450 miles northward to a point. Our travel down the road, we saw only a very few houses along the shore. Red Bay only has a population of 260 and it is really out in no-man's land. We ate at the Whaler's Restaurant and was welcomed by Marilyn MacBride, who is a native of Labrador from generations back. She feed us a wonderful lunch of seafood chowder, sandwiches, and partridgeberry and bakeapple berry pie. Also she had a birthday cake for Rod because his birthday is tomorrow. Marilyn is a very giving lady making clothes and other homemade things for the people in Labrador that live further out in the wilderness. She and her husband have been foster parents to approximately 18 children. For the past 20 years when Rod brings a caravan up here, he brings donated gifts from the caravaners and churches. We carried in bags of school supplies, gently used clothes and shoes, toys and much more. Marilyn will sort through the bags and than deliver it to people who really need these items.

After lunch we walked to the Information Center to see a film telling of the whaling industry and recovery of sunken whaling ships and the artifacts found from that era. Years of research revealed that Red Bay is the most complete and best preserved example of 16th century whaling technology. Four sailing ships and four smaller boats used in the whale hunt were found in the Harbour. We saw a 450 year old boat recovered from the bottom of Red Bay. We then went to the Whaling Museum. In the 16th century more than 10,000 whales were harvested here. This provided the 900,000 barrels of oil per year that lit the lamps of Europe for almost 60 years. Each barrel was worth about $4,000 in today's money. The site of Red Bay tells an incredible story of hardship, exploitation and profit. Now the area's industry is lobster fishing.

While we were here, it was announced that Red Bay Basques Whaling Station was voted on, and became a World Heritage Site because it provides the earliest, most complete and best preserved testimony of the European whaling tradition. This is a very big honor and it is the third World Heritage Site for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

On our way back to the ferry, we stopped at Pinware River for a photo from the bridge. It was a beautiful rushing river.

When we returned to Newfoundland, Yankee RV planned for us to have supper at the Dockside Motel which was right across from where the motorhomes were parked.

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